Facebook to page managers: no more click-baiting.
There’s been a little tempest in a teapot the last few days over an announcement by Facebook that it is changing the priority it gives to certain kinds of posts in the news feed for users. Zuckerberg and Friends has decided that big photos with shortlinks to websites constitutes click-baiting; sometimes it does. So, it is giving less priority in its algorithm* to those kinds of “made you look” posts. The chatter among social media mavens is that Facebook’s announcement is as clear as mud, so let’s break it down a little bit.
What does Facebook mean by click-baiting in this case?
Here’s an example. Instead of copying the URL from the link where this content appears, the page posted a large photo with a shortlink:
It looks nice and clean, but Facebook spank.
Now let’s look at one done the way Facebook prefers. In this case, the page copied the URL from an article found elsewhere on the web and pasted it into a status, which brought up this nice preview that gives a bit of a clue as to what the article is actually about:
(Note that the page thoughtfully removed the long, hairy URL before actually posting.)
So what’s the big deal?
The good, the bad, the ugly, and the creepy.
Facebook says that they are trying to cut down on link-baiting and I believe them. How many times have you been suckered into clicking on a photo that takes you to something that is spammy? So, that’s the good part of this. This move encourages pages to create high-quality content on their own websites, which they should be doing anyway.
Now for the bad part: some websites don’t fetch up (or even have) attractive imagery to send to Facebook with a link. Some social media managers, including yours truly, have worked around that by snagging the image that goes with the post — or, if there is no image, finding one — and pasting an attractive shortlink with it. The shortlink still leads to quality content, it just looks better. Time to stop that.
If your website doesn’t send over great-looking images with its links, time to get a better website. Otherwise, when people post links to it, those posts will be ugly and they probably will simply choose to post something else. Also, be very careful what words you use for your meta-data (what Google sees) if that becomes the headline to the preview.
Now for the creepy part.
Facebook will also monitor how much time people spend at the other website, the one linked to in the Facebook post. Read that again. That’s right. Facebook knows how much time you spend at the other website. So, if you click on a post that sends you to an article you like, go make a sandwich before you read it.
*For the 4 millionth time, fans don’t see every post; neither do your friends.
If you found this post clearer than Facebook’s announcement, share it widely.
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